EDITORIAL: Be prepared!
Thu, 06/02/2016 - 12:08am
The story in the Bible of Noah and Ark is one that is probably known by most people, whether they are Christian or not and there are many lessons one can learn from that story, lessons we can certainly use in our everyday lives. It is a story we can draw on even at this time as the Atlantic Hurricane Season has officially started, as it shows us how if we prepare for impending disaster, the likelihood of survival is great.
When God told Noah to build the ark there was not a cloud in the sky, not a drop of rain, nothing to suggest that the rain would flood the earth and wash everything away. Be that as it may, he obeyed God’s command and built the ark – a massive refuge for his family and animals. Up that time no such disaster seems to have struck the earth, but he nevertheless obeyed. Barbadians on the other hand have seen time and again what a hurricane or even a tropical storm can do, and in spite of that they still procrastinate when it comes to the hurricane season.
Disaster preparedness and disaster management are concepts that appear to still be unfamiliar to Barbadians. Certainly, the fact that the last major hurricane to strike us was back in 1955, is perhaps the reason why Barbadians do not take the possibility of being hit by a hurricane or major weather system seriously, but we must all face the reality that eventually our luck may run out.
There are varying predictions for the 2016 season with some experts suggesting that it will be a near-average season, while others warn of an above-normal season. Colorado State University has predicted that there will be 13 named storms - six to become hurricanes and two to become major hurricanes; while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has suggested that there will be 10 to 16 named storms, including Alex which formed in January out of season, four to eight hurricanes again including Alex; and one to four major hurricanes. Added to that, meteorologists have been monitoring the possibility of El Nino transitioning to La Nina, which they warn would have a significant impact on the activity within the season.
As mentioned in reference to Hurricane Alex, the season got off to a really early start, way back in January. Alex was the first Atlantic hurricane in January since Alice in 1955, and while it caused little damage, the fact remains that the 2016 Hurricane Season has already proven that it is not playing by the rules. Preparedness is therefore paramount.
The weather is often unpredictable and while Barbados has not suffered any major damage from tropical storms or hurricanes in many years, we are not out of harm’s way. Yes, we are strategically placed in the island chain, but it does not mean we will always be spared.
It is incumbent on every individual, family, business or organisation in this country to ensure they have a disaster plan in place. The season lasts until November 30, a total of six months, that’s half of the year, so those plans need to be place as soon as possible. Persons should inspect their properties to ensure they can withstand hurricanes and those who can afford it, can have readymade hurricane shutters installed or simple purchase plywood sheets and keep on hand in the event they are needed. It is also wise to keep plenty of batteries, flashlights, water and non-perishable food on hand, as well as tools and first aid kits.
We hope also in the coming weeks and months ahead, to see concerted efforts being made by the authorities and Barbadians, to keep the gutters and drains clean and clear of debris, so as to avoid unnecessary flooding should a system hit the island.
Let us remember that prevention is better than cure, and if we make the effort to prepare this and every hurricane season, we are reducing the risk to property, life and limb. Our appeal to Barbadians is to be proactive this year and so we leave you with this quote – “Remember: when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed”